King undecided on using carriage with controversial colonial painting
King Willem-Alexander said he has not yet decided if he will continue to use the problematic Golden Carriage on Prinsjesdag, and will make up his mind once the carriage has been fully restored. Speaking outside of the Huis ten Bosch Palace following a photo opportunity, the Dutch King said that the vehicle is an important piece of Dutch culture even if it depicts colonialist imagery considered insensitive by some and racist by others.
"It is part of our culture, but we are not rewriting history,” the King said in a video from broadcaster NOS.
The Golden Carriage dates back to 1898, and features a mural painted by Amsterdam artist Nicolaas van der Waay. In the artwork, Black men are shown as subservient to white men in images meant to represent Suriname and the Antilles. The depicted power dynamic led former SP parliamentarian Harry van Bommel to say in 2015 that the carriage should be placed in a museum, and not be used in official ceremonies, according to newswire ANP
“I am following the discussion, but I am not taking part in it,” said the King. He also said he wanted to see the Golden Carriage restored to its “full glory,” the newswire reported
The carriage itself has been the subject of protest since Van Bommel spoke out about it. A year later, it was pulled out of service for restorative work. Since then, the Royal Family has used the Glass Carriage instead.
The Golden Carriage was commissioned by the City of Amsterdam in the late 19th century. It was a gift from the city to the Royal Family for Queen Wilhelmina for her inauguration in 1898, nearly eight years after her father, King William III died